Why Better Sleep Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

Why Better Sleep Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

After Christmas, many of us start to think about our New Year’s resolutions and the type of person we want to be when the next year begins. Some resolutions are big life changes like finding a new job or moving house, while some are aspirational like getting into better shape and improving physical fitness. But year after year a major, achievable, resolution is ignored - getting better sleep.

Getting better sleep might seem too passive for some people who like their resolutions to be big and bold, but developing healthy sleep habits can benefit all the other areas of our lives.

Here are some of the reasons why better sleep should be on your list of New Year’s Resolutions.

It’s easy to stick to (a resolution you will actually keep)

Year after year we joke about having given up our resolutions before January and ‘new year, new me’ is out of the window. One of the biggest reasons people abandon their New Year’s resolutions is that they aim too high and try to change too much from the get-go.

Why Better Sleep Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

For example, if your plan is to get into better shape, and you currently do no exercise at all, going to the gym 5 times a week from the start will not be sustainable in most cases. A better approach might be to start with going twice a week and building up to 5 over the coming months.

However, if your goal is better sleep, you don’t need to clear extra time in your schedule or motivate yourself, you just need to improve the quality of something you already do, every single day. You need to sleep anyway, so you might as well make it good quality!

The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours, so if you’re not currently getting that, there’s your starting point! There’s more you can do to ensure that your sleep is healthy and restful, which we will come to shortly,  but if you can manage to consistently get 7-9 hours sleep, consider this resolution achieved!

Better sleep can help you achieve your other resolutions

Better sleep doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive with other resolutions, quite the opposite in fact. Countless studies have shown the benefits of adequate restful sleep on our physical performance, mood and cognitive functioning, so committing yourself to better sleep gives you the best possible chance at achieving or sticking to your other resolutions!

For example, if your goal is to start going for a run every day, waking up well-rested will put you in a much better state physically and mentally to do so. If you are aiming to get promoted at work or get a new job, being well-rested will also make you mentally sharper and better equipped to deal with tasks, which will get you noticed.

Similarly, a bad night’s sleep will leave you unmotivated and in a less-than-optimal physical and mental state to carry out your other resolutions. This is why better sleep is one of the best New Year’s resolution ideas - it makes all other resolutions more achievable!

It's a low effort, high reward resolution

Whatever your other resolutions are, you’re going to sleep, so why not try and make that sleep as healthy and restful as possible? If you’re not getting enough sleep, then trying to add in a couple of hours’ extra is achievable with a few small tweaks to your routine.

Even if you have trouble oversleeping or your resolution is to wake up earlier and get a headstart on the day, implementing a healthy bedtime routine of going to bed a little earlier will make the early starts much more bearable, because you will have still had your full 7-9 hours of sleep!

We’ve all likely experienced both a great night’s sleep and a terrible night’s sleep, and the difference it makes to your mood and performance levels the following day is huge. Giving yourself the best possible chance to sleep well takes a lot less effort than training for a marathon does!

How to start getting better sleep

Why Better Sleep Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

There’s no doubt that better sleep is a good New Year’s resolution to have, but how do you actually go about it? 

Schedule a bedtime routine

It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per day, so you can either start with the time you want to get up in the morning and work backwards from there, or identify the time of the evening you start to feel sleepy and use that as the start of your sleep schedule. Most of us can’t fall asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow however, so try and start getting ready for bed about an hour before your scheduled sleep time.

Reduce screen time

Screens are stimulating, and blue light can affect your circadian rhythm, which makes phones, tablets and TVs just before bed counterproductive to a good night’s sleep. If you find you need something to focus on when you get into bed, try reading a book instead, and only use your phone to set a wake up alarm.

Take a hot bath or shower before bed

Taking a hot bath or shower about an hour before bed helps to remove heat and causes your body temperature to go down. This drop in temperature indicates to your body that it’s time for bed - helping you fall asleep quicker.

Why Better Sleep Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

Avoid alcohol & caffeine too close to bed time

Both alcohol and caffeine can be very disruptive to your sleep, so try to avoid both close to bedtime. While caffeine might stop you from dropping off, alcohol might make you fall asleep easily to begin with, but can cause you to wake in the night or early in the morning and struggle to get back to sleep afterwards.

Invest in a good quality mattress

All of the above are great tips for getting into a good sleep routine, but it is hard to actually nod off if your bed isn’t comfortable. A natural mattress provides breathability which helps to regulate your temperature through the night, and is free from chemicals that may also affect your sleep and health.

Be sure also to consider the type of mattress you need based on how you sleep. Some people who sleep on their front prefer a firmer mattress that offers more spinal support, whereas some side sleepers prefer the contouring of a medium-soft mattress that supports their joints.

Get seasonally appropriate bedding

Just as your mattress is important to ensuring a good night’s sleep, so is your bedding. Using very heavy bedding in summer or bedding that is too light in winter will affect how well you can sleep, no matter how good your routine is, so make sure you use bedding you feel comfortable with.

Natural bedding will provide you with breathability and temperature control, while also giving you luxurious comfort, and duvets are available in different tog ratings, so you can always choose the bedding that suits the weather.

So, do you think that better sleep might be the right New Year’s resolution for you?

With all the benefits that come with better sleep, there’s no reason not to add it to your pledges for the upcoming year - it might even help you stick with some of your other resolutions!